Staying Up to Date with Your Vaccinations as a SeniorAugust 11, 2023
Oftentimes, when we think of vaccines, we think of the myriad of shots children get to stay healthy and happy. It’s rare we think of needing vaccines into our adulthood, and maybe even rarer still, as an older adult. However, staying up to date with your vaccinations as a senior is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
Why is staying up to date with my vaccinations as a senior so important?
As you age, your immune system weakens and makes it far more difficult to fight off infection. As a result, seniors are more likely to experience severe complications from certain illnesses, which can even lead to hospitalization and death. Getting vaccines can protect you from these illnesses and lower your likelihood of experiencing serious symptoms if you do catch them.
But staying up to date with your immunizations isn’t just important for your own health. Those who are unvaccinated may never experience any symptoms of illness. However, when you are unvaccinated for certain viruses, it is possible that you may be a carrier without even realizing it. This is especially dangerous if you have loved ones in your life with weakened immune systems. You could pass on a disease without realizing it, which could have serious implications for their health.
If travel is on the horizon, you may need a few vaccinations before you hop on the plane. Depending on your destination, your doctor may advise that you get certain immunizations so you don’t catch a foreign virus. Once you receive your dosage, you can focus on having fun without having to worry about what illness you might bring home.
What are the vaccinations I might need as an older adult?
August is National Immunization Awareness Month— the perfect reminder to get up to date with your shots. Before you make any decisions about what vaccines you may or may not need, speak with your doctor. They can provide you the latest information on certain immunizations and clarify whether or not you need them with your current health conditions.
On average, however, there are a few key vaccinations that older adults need to stay in tip-top shape. Remember that each of those vaccines has potential, uncomfortable side effects, but once these pass you will be one step closer to living a healthier life. A few of these crucial vaccinations include…
Shingles is a painful rash caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, or the chickenpox virus. If you had chickenpox as a child, you are much more likely to develop shingles, as the virus remains in your body throughout your life. Common symptoms include itching, tingling, burning, and shooting pains, as it is a condition that affects the nerves.
It usually lasts for a few weeks but can have impacts for months. A shingles vaccination is recommended for those over the age of 50, even if you’ve never had chickenpox.
Pneumococcal disease refers to several infections including pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections. Though it is primarily a pulmonary condition, it can impact other parts of the body. Seniors are at a much higher risk of developing pneumococcal disease. They are also more likely to experience serious symptoms or even death from it.
To limit your risk of developing pneumococcal disease, it is recommended that people aged 65 get vaccinated. There are a few different types of this vaccination, so it’s important to speak to your doctor about what is best for you.
Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap)
The Tdap vaccination helps prevent three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Tetanus (or lockjaw) is a condition that affects the body’s muscles and nerves. Diphtheria is a respiratory disease that causes the breathing tube to be locked. Pertussis (or whooping cough) is a condition that can last for months.
This is a vaccination many individuals receive as children. However, it is important that you get a booster shot every ten years to stay protected.
The flu is a common virus that causes fever, chills, sore throat, stuffy nose, and body aches. While many think of the flu as a less serious disease, it can seriously impact older adults. When it impacts the lungs, older adults are at a higher risk of serious complications and even pneumonia.
Because it is such a common virus, it is constantly changing. This means that the flu shot you received a few years ago likely won’t protect you against the current strain. An annual flu shot is recommended to protect against the new strain. Talk to your doctor about flu shots that are specifically designed for older adults.
After the past several years, we are all sick of hearing about COVID-19. While the risk of catching this is much lower than it once was, it is still a threat and should be treated as such. COVID-19 is a serious condition that can lead to fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
One of the best things you can do to stay protected is to get vaccinated every six months. Frequency rates may vary slightly based on what type of vaccination you received.
Stay healthy with the help of a caregiver
Keeping up to date with your vaccinations is a great way to maintain your health. However, when you live at home, certain day-to-day activities might not be as easy as they once were, such as cooking or personal care. An at-home caregiver can help you stay on top of these activities of daily living, so you live the healthiest life possible.
Home Care Powered by AUAF has supported seniors in the Chicago area for 30 years. We would be happy to support you too. For more information on our services, give us a call at 773-274-9262.
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